Division of Hematologic Malignancies &
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Hematologic Cancers Program
S. Onder Alpdogan, MD
Emmanuel C. Besa, MD
Matthew Carabasi, MD
Joanne Filicko-O'Hara, MD
Neal Flomenberg, MD
Elena Gitelson, MD, PhD
Margaret T. Kasner, MD
Ubaldo Martinez-Outschoorn, MD
Bijoyesh P. Mookerjee, MD
John L. Wagner, MD
Mark Weiss, MD
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Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Designated a center of excellence in cancer care and research, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals' Kimmel Cancer Center treats patients with hematological malignancies, the most common forms of which are leukemia (acute and chronic myelogenous and lymphocytic), Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma. These cancers may arise from the bone marrow, lymph nodes or extra-nodal locations such as the stomach, brain, testes and orbit.
The Kimmel Cancer Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists, who collaborate on evaluation and diagnosis and guide the patient through the most appropriate course of treatment. Chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for these cancers, but radiation plays an important role in treating certain types of lymphomas.
Jefferson is home to the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy/Kimmel Cancer Center, the region's busiest radiation oncology center, offering one of the largest cancer treatment programs in the Delaware Valley. Patients undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplantation receive total body irradiation (TBI) to eradicate any remaining cancer cells and induce immunosuppression. Lung and kidney blocks shield those organs.
The bone marrow transplant team at Jefferson meets the requirements of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) for bone marrow and tissue transplantation. Specialists in the program are pioneering efforts to expand the pool of potential donors and to reduce complications of transplant procedures, such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
The standard method for preventing GVHD has been delivering chemotherapy drugs prior to transplantation. This can weaken the immune system, however, leading to infections and in some cases secondary cancers. Through a novel procedure developed at Jefferson, chemotherapy drugs are administered after the introduction of T-cells but before stem cells are introduced. GVHD cells are killed while cells that restore normal bone marrow function are spared.
A bone marrow transplant is much more likely to be successful if the donor is a perfect match. But while the odds of locating a perfect-match donor are about 50 percent for Caucasians, they drop to only 10 percent for African Americans. An innovative two-step procedure using half-matched (haploidentical) donors, recently developed at Jefferson, is being performed at the Kimmel Cancer Center. This approach, which we have extended beyond cancer to sickle cell anemia, selectively depletes the activated T-cells that cause GVHD and allows transplants from half-matched donors to be performed in a safe and effective way.